Sara Naftaly is best known in Seattle for co-owning Le Gourmand with her husband Bruce before it closed in June 2012 after nearly 30 years in business. The corner brick space in Ballard now houses Brimmer & Heeltap. Naftaly, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, is going solo for her next venture, opening a bake shop in the upcoming Chophouse Row on Capitol Hill (check out this before and after pic) that will also house two new concepts from Ericka Burke, a yet-to-be-named wine bar of sorts from Matt Dillon, and a cheese shop from Kurt Timmermeister.
Her shop will be called Amandine and will share a two-story space with Slate Coffee, undoubtedly making it the new morning stop on 11tha nd Pike come fall.
“It will be a very un-Seattle space,” she says. “We’ll have this really long, narrow [space] and then we’ll have stairs up the side of it that go up to a mezzanine.”
The upper deck will seat about 15, while the downstairs will seat about 6.
When asked what she’ll be offering: “That’s the really hard question!"
"Initially, I was just going to be doing macaron and macaron glacé (ice cream sandwiches). Now, because I’m in with Slate, I’m doing macaron, macaron glacé and sacristan (twisted puffed pastry)." There will also be other goodies, like tarts, cookies, etc.
Amandine and Slate will be very integrated in the sense that customers will not know the difference.
“For the most part, we’re going to be sharing and divvying up stuff. Hopefully, from the point of view of the customer, we should seem like one thing, but the purpose is to have really top-notch baked goods and really top-notch coffee—one-stop shop. And we’re going to do a lot of…I’ll mess about with their coffee in some of what I’m doing.”
Oddly enough, Naftaly says the macaron is not the thing she does best. “But I do macaron differently maybe than other people here. I think most people here probably use Italian merengue and I use French merengue. I use a variety of nuts; I don’t just use almond meal.”
She also says that many of the macarons here in Seattle are too sweet.
“You can make really great macarons that balance well with the sugar. If you balance the almond with the sugar, you don’t just make a sugar bomb; you can actually make something great. And even more than that, the macaron glace thing I’m maybe even more passionate about.”
“The thing about the macaron glacé is that unlike what most people think here, they transform as you make them. You take a regular macaron, fill it with ice cream—make yourself an ice cream sandwich—and then you stick it in the freezer and cure it for three days. Three days makes it gloss more, and makes it both more chewy and crunchy; it totally transforms into something else. After those three days it’s perfect! “
Naftaly will make her own ice cream with flavors (interesting ones) changing constantly. “I don’t want to be pinned down. Probably not going to be doing salted caramel and all that kind of crap.”
Her favorite flavor of ice cream?
“I love [black] licorice and I love [black] licorice ice cream. If it’s somebody else’s ice cream and I know they’re good at what they do, my first inclination is to go for something that’s coconut or something that’s lemon. But if it’s lemon, it has to be not too creamy.”
She plans to offer about 10 flavors of macaron on any given day.
Amandine will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, possibly closing on Sundays.